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Climate Change

Climate Emergency Declaration

Our climate is changing, and we are facing harmful impacts on our environment, natural habitats and lives in general. In July 2019 Tunbridge Wells Borough Council declared a Climate Emergency and set a commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Full Council in July 2019 (FC29/19) confirmed that:

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council recognises the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence pointing to man-made climate change and the harmful impacts this is having on natural habitats and ecosystems, biodiversity and our lives in general. It notes the early work undertaken to date by the Council including efforts to promote active travel, increase recycling and the reduction of plastic usage in the Town Hall but understands it needs to do more. It recognises that it has a responsibility to take a firm lead on reducing the council’s and the wider borough’s carbon emissions and in furtherance of this responsibility agrees to:

  • Declare its recognition of global climate and biodiversity emergencies.
  • Set up a climate cross party task force to start a dedicated report within the fiscal year with actions that it needs to take to address this emergency including how the wider community including businesses, organisations and individuals can be encouraged to make their own contributions to meeting a goal to make the Borough carbon neutral by 2030. This report will include a plan to conduct a green audit of all council services to ensure that weight is given to the environmental and sustainability impact as well as cost and which will inform the next iteration of the Council’s five-year plan.
  • Ensure that forthcoming plans and strategies (including the Local Plan and the next iteration of the Five-Year Plan) set out ways in which the Council can make its contribution to reduce carbon emissions, the degradation of the environment and combating climate change by agreeing an ambition to make the Council’s operations carbon neutral by 2030.
  • Lobby central government to provide additional resources and to grant the necessary freedoms to deliver the above.
  • Take steps with partners to proactively include young people in the process, ensuring that they have a voice in shaping the future by setting up a Citizen’s Assembly as a way of also involving residents and businesses in the process as Climate change will have implications for generations to come.

Council’s own plan of action

With the declaration of a climate emergency, we recognise the crucial role that local authorities can play in helping to reduce both the causes and impacts of climate change.  It is important to us to reduce our own emissions and the impact our buildings and services have on the climate at both the local and national level.

A cross-party Climate Emergency Advisory Panel (CEAP) was established to conduct an audit of the Council’s current carbon footprint and develop a pathway to reach net zero by 2030.

The Council’s total carbon emissions for 2018/19 came to 3473.4 tonnes of carbon (tCO2e) per year. [Greenhouse gas emissions are reported in units of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e). This allows the impact of each of the seven main greenhouse gasses to be expressed in terms of the amount of CO2 that would create the same amount of warming, allowing easy comparison of the impact of different emission types]. This is already an improvement on 2013/14, around a 40% reduction in emissions;  the last time an assessment was undertaken, when the council reported a total of 6,046 tonnes of carbon (tCO2e) per year.

Corporate Carbon Descent Plan 2021-2022 thumbnail As a Council we recognise the importance of rapidly reducing our footprint to achieve our carbon neutral ambition by 2030, building and accelerating on the emissions reductions that have previously been achieved throughout the organisation.

Our Corporate Carbon Descent Plan & Action Plan outlines the Council’s vision for managing and reducing emissions arising from its own activities over the next 10 years.  With a yearly action plan that is reviewed and updated annually.

The Corporate Carbon Descent and Action Plan was approved by Cabinet in March 2021.

Citizen Engagement

The Cabinet report on 11 March 2021 also sets out the Climate Emergency Advisory Panel’s approach to citizen engagement and how it will proactively include young people in the process. The means by which we can ensure that our communities have a voice in shaping the future is considered and the various options, by setting up a Citizen’s Assembly as a way of also involving residents and businesses in the process.

Further details on Citizen’s Assembly can be found in the report of the Climate Emergency
Advisory Panel
and the agenda for Full Council held on Wednesday 21 April 2021.

Council wide action on climate change

The next phase of action will be to develop a Borough wide strategy and shared vision to address both the direct and indirect sources of the emissions that are responsible for climate change. How we as a Council can support a reduction in ‘borough wide’ carbon emission.

To achieve these goals, Tunbridge Wells also recognises that we need action from the UK Government and the wider world.

Further details on this next phase of activity will be published on this webpage as it becomes available.

However, the Council already supports sustainable transport choices via the Tunbridge Wells Car Club and the electric vehicle charging. Equally, advice on energy saving and ‘solar together’ can be found on our energy advice pages.